December 30, 2011
Marie Claire L. testimonial from Burundi
This is what I brought back from Burundi:
A journey of 24 days in a country like Burundi changes you way of thinking and feeds your soul! I discovered that there are more than paper and water lacking in this country….
I went to the land dominated by green hills to help provide education to communities marked by harsh living or even survival conditions. I felt welcomed by My School Bag local partners and volunteers and felt the great desire for change and the will to help those less fortunate in this country ravaged by war.
What struck me the most is the lack of resources available to the people to change the course of their lives in spite of the wealth of the tropical vegetation and palm trees. Everything is in “s l o w m o t i o n” . When priorities are fighting hunger, providing a safe environment when confronted to bad weather conditions and finding work to provide the basic needs, it is easy to understand that many have no more energy nor time to attend to their children’s social matters.
Despite all of this, our precious Jeff gives them their school bag and asks if they were happy. The children then raise, at arm’s length, their precious bag shouting for joy and thanking Canadian for their generosity. We were overcome by a very strong feeling when we saw the children press their gift against their heart… we realized that they understood what this gift truly meant. They knew that the only way to escape their fate which consists of sorting through garbage. They are specialist in this domain as their camp is feet away from the city garbage dump. Their parents, many of them illiterate, are well aware of the importance of this ‘school bag” and as quoted by G. Danton; “ After bread, education is the first need of the people”
This explains why desperate parents competitively beg for the 2 or 3 unclaimed school bags. They were well aware they represented the keys of LIFE rather than the sentence of SURVIVAL… They also know this is a limited opportunity to promote the potential of their child which explained the boldness of their actions.
These school bags’ distributions make us think about social justice and inequality related to the place a child is born. Would I easily accept that my 16 months old blond granddaughter, Alice, so alert, be exposed to the harsh living conditions that little Marilou confronts everyday in her Displaced Camp?
Marilou is certainly worth as much to her mother as Alice is to hers….
Resources being almost nonexistent, there is no real motivation from the people to come together to improve their living conditions (ex: to fix a broken water pump, to promote education, to make proper politic decisions favorable to their situation, to control their natural resources and to stop depending on big corporations, etc).
Things are slowly changing and I hope the gift of education will give them the strength they so desperately need. High school students who are terminating their studies demonstrate their willingness to return to their communities and become valuable resources such as doctors, teachers, nurses, computer technicians or managers. They know they are the pioneers for change in their country. They are proud to help assemble the school bags for younger kids and thus “giving back”, they help promote to the younger kids, the importance of a good education.
At these times of global shift, it is favorable to give long-term means to the people in need even if it is in dribs and drabs. Knowing this will help the young to become free men and pillars in their community is very encouraging. Colonialism is outdated. We now want to talk on equal terms to free men that will improve their environment and will no longer wait for corporate donations. A free man is in a better position to make the right decisions for himself and his family. But in order to do so, he needs to get some education, then and only then, he will be able to do so.
It gives me great pleasure to continue support “MY SCHOOL BAG” so my children and grandchildren may learn we are ALL inhabitants of a large village on a small planet where INEQUALITIES SHOULD NOT EXIST. We must seriously consider social justice and take meaningful actions; even if minimal, they are worth being made. I saw that their children and grandchildren are just as important to them as mine are to me. I have not doubt that when I reach out to give them a note book, they are one step closer to freedom and that education gives them a great sense of accomplishment.
Written by Marie-Claire L.